(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The cricket world is up in arms over claims India has got its way after making an “outrageous” demand for their World Cup semifinal.
Cricket pundits are outraged following reports the pitch for India’s ODI World Cup semifinal against New Zealand has been chosen and curated to suit the host nation.
India have won all nine of their games heading into Wednesday’s must win clash with New Zealand at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium and are the red hot favourities to lift the trophy.
According to the Daily Mail, the semifinal has been moved to the ground’s sixth pitch, which has already staged two games at the World Cup.
The Indian Express is also reporting Indian officials asked BCCI curators to shave off most of the grass on the playing surface, resulting in a slow pitch for the semifinal.
A slow, turning pitch is expected to suit India’s spinners including Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.
The decision to request a slower pitch is particularly bewildering given India’s pace attack of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj is arguably the best fast bowling group in the world at the moment.
The Daily Mail reported a WhatsApp message was sent to a group of ICC and BCCI officials confirming the change of pitch.
Pitches at ICC events are prepared under the supervision of ICC consultant Andy Atkinson, who is said to be furious at the development.
Atkinson claimed in an email to bosses the changes had been made “without proper notice or forewarning”.
“As a result of these actions, one must speculate if this will be the first ever ICC CWC final to have a pitch which has been specifically chosen and prepared to their stipulation at the request of the team management and/or the hierarchy of the home nation board.
“Or will it be selected or prepared without favouritism for either of the sides competing in the match in the usual manner, and unquestionably because it is the usual pitch for the occasion?”
Sports broadcaster Gerard Whateley said on SEN the pitch situation was “outrageous”.
“I can’t believe that. No, I shouldn’t say that … I can believe this absolutely, that this is happening,” Whateley said.
“I think it’s outrageous. This is an international tournament.
“Prepare the pitches however you like for your home series, every nation has the choice to do that if they want to.
“But this is an international tournament, it hasn’t quite felt that way.
“It’s felt like a tournament in India for India and for India to win.
“This is evidently going on.
“It’s one thing when you’re the host nation of your own Test series for the team to influence the preparation for the pitch.
“It just shouldn’t be happening at an international tournament.
“It is just so brazened as to be breathtaking and confirms everything that we know about pitch preparation in India. No matter how much denial there is of it.”
Australia face South Africa in the second World Cup semifinal on Thursday.